When “Play for Pink” Became Playing for Each Other: Team Cohesion as a Goal of Socially Responsible Strategic Communication


  • William Harris Ressler Ithaca College


athletes, breast cancer, cause promotion, intercollegiate athletics, internal marketing, social cohesion, strategic communication, strategic philanthropy, NCAA Division III


Members of a sports team are often called on to participate in strategic communication activities that are intended to demonstrate social responsibility while enhancing the reputations of their team and their sport. Surprisingly, however, evaluations of outcomes focus almost exclusively on benefits to stakeholders other than the team members. One potential yet essential goal of socially responsible strategic communication activities can be to increase feelings of group cohesion among team members, which in turn can influence individual members’ feelings of well-being, identification with the team, motivation, and ultimately perhaps their athletic performance. This case study examines how members of a women’s intercollegiate athletic team planned, promoted, and performed a fundraiser benefiting local women with breast cancer. Evaluation results suggested that their activities increased their feelings of cohesion with teammates and connection to their college. Interviews with team members suggested that they felt they received the greatest benefit when they had control over the process, opportunities to collaborate within and outside the team, and a personal and local connection to the cause.